Hart Assumes Leadership Role in Secondary

SS Clinton Hart (Donald Miralle/Getty)

Clinton Hart showed he had plenty of heart last year as a key component of the Chargers' stingy defense. Now he can show a new five-year contract as well. Hart, thrust into the starting role last year, solidified his status with the club after being awarded the deal.

"We are happy to have Clinton as part of our future," general manager A. J. Smith said. "He was a first-year starter last year and was a major part of our team's success. We believe his best football is ahead of him."

Clinton Hart has showed progress since arriving from Philadelphia three seasons ago after being cut loose by the Eagles. He played hard on special teams, did well is spot situations as a backup safety then started running with the first unit last season after the Chargers cut previous starter Terrence Kiel.

"I've put in a lot of hard work," Hart said. "I feel blessed and I'm happy to be part of the Charges for a few more years so we can make that run at a world championship."

In five seasons, Hart has seen action in 78 regular-season games, which includes 31 starts. But his contributions don't start and end on the playing field.

He's become a team leader in the clubhouse, a calming voice for a secondary which includes youthful cornerback Antonio Cromartie and safety Eric Weddle.

But Hart was more than just talk. His 109 tackles were third-best among the AFC West champion Chargers, trailing only linebackers Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm.

Hart's new pact will run through the 2012 season.

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